La Niña

“Operation Navy Help”Cyclone Tracy Darwin Christmas 1974.Why I became a climate activist. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani Catastrophic #ClimateChange #COP24

In 1974 as a young sailor married with two children I was in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy destroyed Darwin, my wife and I lay under a mattress with our boys while our house was torn apart. I was just learning the power of nature.

Watch the video Operation Navy Help

Naval Headquarters Darwin after Cyclone Tracy

After the clean up I retired from the navy and continued my career in the Australian Airforce.

I read the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”

The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.

In the summer of 1970, an international team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a study of the implications of continued worldwide growth.

They examined the five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, ultimately limit growth on this planet-population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation.

The MIT team fed data on these five factors into a global computer model and then tested the behavior of the model under several sets of assumptions to determine alternative patterns for mankind’s future.

The Limits to Growth is the nontechnical report of their findings.

The book contains a message of hope, as well: Man can create a society in which he can live indefinitely on earth if he imposes limits on himself and his production of material goods to achieve a state of global equilibrium with population and production in carefully selected balance.

Today I do what I can to help people to understand the science, understand the challenge we face.

Listen. To Sir David Attenborough Address to COP24

‘Rioting is not one of the three Rs’: Liberals say #ClimateStrike students should give up ice-creams #auspol #qldpol #Insiders #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani

Liberal MPs have attacked the “rioting” students who took a day off school to protest the government’s climate change policies, with one challenging them to swear off ice-cream to lower emissions.

Climate Strike Protest Melbourne

An estimated 15,000 students marched in cities and regional towns around the country on Friday – despite warnings they could face disciplinary action for not attending school.

Students hold placards during Friday’s climate protest in Melbourne.

Photo: Luis Ascui

Liberal senator James McGrath identified a spelling error in a placard held by one student at the protest, circling it in a photograph he posted on his Facebook page. The sign, which targeted Prime Minister Scott Morrison directly, misspelt “jealous” as “jelous”.

“Given some of the creative spelling on display at yesterday’s [Queensland Teachers Union]-endorsed muck-up day, perhaps these children’s teachers and parents might like to refocus their attention on the three Rs, of which rioting is not one of them,” Senator McGrath said.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly – who sits on the House of Representatives’ environment and energy committee – told Fairfax Media that if the children were serious about combating climate change they should forgo ice-creams and hamburgers.

“Given that the agricultural sector and the dairy sector is such a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, they should say they’re going to go without ice-creams for 12 months,” he said.

“If they’re really serious they should make a commitment – no ice-cream, no hamburgers and no trips to the Gold Coast for schoolies, because of all the emissions from the airplanes.”

Let them not eat cake: Liberal MP Craig Kelly.

Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The comments followed those of Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who told 2GB radio on Friday: “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.

“Because that’s what your future life will look like: up in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge for your life and getting a real job.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Morrison said the government did not support “schools being turned into Parliaments … what we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools”.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said it was rich of the government to “lecture” students about “missing a couple of hours at school” when its parliamentary sitting calendar for 2019 consisted of so few sitting days in early part of the year.

“The kids might have a look at Mr Morrison and say, well, you don’t even go to work mate,” Mr Shorten said.

Press link for more: SMH

Liberal and National Party should do the maths

Liberal & National Parties an F for Politics.

It should not be up to Australia’s schoolchildren to #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike we should all be protecting our kids from from catastrophic #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion #COP24

By Ebony Bennett

The Coalition government under Scott Morrison appears to have forgotten the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

It’s far too early to describe the Morrison government as terminal; the six months or so till a mooted May federal election is a long time in politics. But the government seems content to write off the message from Liberal voters in Wentworth and Victoria, particularly on climate change, because they do not represent its ‘base’. God only knows where the Liberal base is if it isn’t located in blue ribbon Liberal seats, but who are we to argue?

Coalition government policies under John Howard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison have failed to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s emissions are rising when they should be falling.

Worse, the Morrison government appears determined to back policies and projects that will increase emissions and fuel global warming.

There were 114 fires burning across Queensland on Friday.

Photo: QFES Media

It was sickening to watch the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan welcome Adani’s announcement that it was ready to start construction of its mega coal mine before Christmas, at the same time as bushfires raged across Queensland during an unprecedented heatwave.

Mining and burning coal is a major cause of the greenhouse gas pollution that is heating the atmosphere, cooking the Great Barrier Reef and intensifying the extreme weather conditions Queensland is currently experiencing.

For the first time in Queensland’s history, the state’s fire danger warning was raised to ‘catastrophic’, the new category of fire danger that had to be invented following the Black Saturday fires of 2009. It is only five years since the Bureau of Meteorology had to add new colours – deep purple and pink – to indicate temperatures beyond its 50-degree cap. Australia’s extreme heat and fire danger is now literally off the charts.

As far as divine signs to stop burning fossil fuels go, more than a hundred bushfires in Queensland’s tropical north rainforest country during the wet season could not be more obvious. Thousands of residents were given ‘Leave Now’ warnings, with authorities bluntly warning residents who refused to flee that they could “burn to death” and that the firestorm could create “dead man zones” which would be impossible to survive, even in a car.

Even on the beach.

“I’m sure that some people have probably got very good and elaborate systems of pumps and dams and systems and they believe that I’ll be OK and I know what I’m doing and I’ve done this before,” said Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford, who experienced Victoria’s Ash Wednesday fires firsthand as a firefighter. “Today is not one of those days. Today is different. We are expecting a firestorm.”

Australia’s extreme heat and fire danger is now literally off the charts.

Queensland residents described 20-metre-high flames fanned by “tornado-like” winds. The heatwave is set to continue. There is no rain forecast. Watching a senior minister tweet photos of bushfire devastation in Queensland while applauding Adani’s coal mine is like watching someone hand out cigarettes to cancer patients.

Is it any wonder thousands and thousands of students turned out in force across Australiaon Friday for the School Strike 4 Climate?

Australia’s kids are willing to sacrifice their education to stop Adani because they know it is their future at stake, it is their generation who will be forced to clean up the policy mess that ministers like Matt Canavan have left them.

But of course, it should not be up to Australia’s schoolchildren to stop Adani. The Labor party, Australia’s likely future government, should give voters a real choice at the next election and commit to stop Adani’s mine by any means available to it.

Adani’s mine is a dud project for any one of a dozen reasons. No bank would touch it, Adani has had to finance the mine itself. There won’t be many jobs in it, Adani boasts “When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous from mine to port”. Traditional owners do not consent to the mine on their land and are challenging Adani before a full federal court bench next year. Adani is still under investigation for potential environmental breaches in Australia and it has an appalling record of environmental destruction and prosecutions overseas, including allegations of corruption, fraud and money laundering.

The federal Environment Department found Adani probably broke the law in its environmental application by giving false evidence. Federal and Queensland governments are yet to sign off on key water plans which water scientists say are grossly inadequate to protect precious water. As Queensland burns and suffers through drought, it seems grossly unfair that Adani has been granted a license to extract 12.5 billion litres of water every year for 60 years, nearly as much as all local farmers combined, without a full environmental impact assessment, as documents obtained by Lock The Gate Alliance under Queensland’s Right To Information laws showed. And the Queensland government is still offering Adani a secret royalty subsidy.

Frankly Australia’s next government should not only stop Adani, it should put a moratorium on all new coal mines. Even with a ban on new mines, Australia Institute research shows Australia’s coal production would decline only gradually as existing mines reached the end of their economic lives. If Adani’s coal mine goes ahead, with flat world demand for coal, every new coal mine opened in new coal regions like the Galilee simply reduces production in existing coal regions like the Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin and Surat Basin. This will lead to the closure of some mines and layoffs in others. A moratorium on new coal mines would protect existing coal jobs. It is impossible to limit global warming while building new coal mines.

The Morrison government’s determination to use taxpayers’ money to underwrite new coal-fired power is also concerning. Just as you can’t dig yourself out of a hole, you can’t reduce electricity prices by building coal-fired power stations – the most expensive form of new energy to build. Renewable energy and battery storage are cheap and getting cheaper and renewables have been putting downwards pressure on electricity prices for years now.

But Minister for Energy Angus Taylor appears determined to invest in coal – like investing billions of taxpayers’ dollars in Video Ezy while blaming the world for streaming Netflix. Coal-fired fired power stations aren’t even that reliable and our ageing fleet increasingly fails in the heat when we need them most. The Australia Institute’s Gas and Coal Watch has tracked 109 separate breakdowns at coal-fired power stations this year: 67 at black coal plants and 42 at brown coal plants, hardly  ‘reliable’.

Taxpayers should be concerned the Government is gearing up to sign risky contracts for billions of dollars, possibly without the authority to do so. It is policy on the run from a government in panic mode, only it is Australian taxpayers, not the Liberal and National parties, who will be left on the hook for any liability arising from the Minister’s rushed process.

The Liberal party is perfectly entitled to keep its ‘homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers’ branding – as Kelly O’Dwyer so succinctly put it – if it thinks it’s onto a winner. The only danger now is that the Coalition will mire Australia in its climate policy bog as it doubles down on coal and digs itself further away from the political mainstream.

Ebony Bennett is deputy director at The Australia Institute @ebony_bennett

The school #climatestrike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #ClimateChange is stealing our children’s future #TheDrum

The school climate strike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud

By Naaman Zhou

The kids couldn’t believe it.

The adults couldn’t believe it. 

Martin Place hadn’t seen anything like it for years, and Elly and her sister had never seen anything like it – ever.

Elly, 14, and Aidan, 10, had come thinking the strike would be “a small thing”. Elly said she didn’t know many people from her school who were coming. She found a thousand others.

On Friday, in a crowded Martin Place, the chants went up and I’ve never felt prouder.

This week thousands of students in every state walked out of school to protest inaction over climate change and the sense that their future is being frittered away.

They had the signs, the statistics, the anger – and the solutions too. I looked around and felt I had seen the future, clever and full of passion.

I count myself as nearly of the same generation as the strikers.

I’m six years out of high school, nearly graduated from university – but I’ve never seen a protest like this.

I came in with cynicism. In the exact same spot, I have seen so many protests wither on the vine, outnumbered by food-court patrons.

University students like to think that they are the epicentre of social change, or at least they were in the heyday of the 70s. But on Friday in Sydney all you could hear in the CBD were the school kids, and in Melbourne they stopped traffic at 1pm on a school day.

Activism seems to have skipped a generation, and I couldn’t be happier.

In Sydney, Jean Hinchliffe, 14, had the stage and took the roll, in a way. She asked who here was in primary school, who was in high school, who was from western Sydney, who had travelled from the bush, who wanted their politicians to do way more about climate change. The roar sent the microphones screaming into static and camera operators winced with their headphones in.

Scott Morrison had told them not to gather and that only made them feel better about doing it. Finally, something the politicians couldn’t control. That was the theme of the day – the frustration of feeling powerless.

“You have failed us all so terribly,” said Nosrat Fareha, 15, from Auburn Girls High school.

“We deserve better. Young people can’t even vote but will have to live with the consequences of your inaction for decades.”

Morrison was mentioned by every speaker and booed every time. How much he must regret that throwaway line in question time, that “kids should go to school” and be “less activist”, and the electoral harm it threatens to cause in a few more years.

It was so easily turned around, and the irony obvious to all. “If Scott Morrisonwants children to stop acting like a parliament, then maybe the parliament should stop acting like children,” Manjot Kaur, 17, said.

It was an articulate anger, and the speakers made sure to say they had the solutions too, not just the doom and gloom. There was music and happiness. They sang Stand by Me and everyone knew the words – an old-school activist vibe to make anyone dewy-eyed. One girl said to another, “Oh I should have put you up on my shoulders for that!” and then did on the next song.

“Here’s to us”, said Fareha. “The generation that can’t wait until it’s too late”.

There will inevitably be blowback from the rightwing commentariat, and the politicians themselves, that these young activists have been whipped into a false frenzy. But that’s not what this was. It was a hesitant, cautious embrace of something long overdue.

“When I say student, you say power!” Hinchliffe shouted. They did. And it felt like a sense of self-actualisation – hundreds looking around and thinking yes, everyone is actually, really saying it too. Maybe it’s true. The call and response came up and down Martin Place in waves, swimming long laps. They were clutching their ears it was so loud.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Climate change: Australian students skip school for mass protest #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #TheDrum #COP24 #TakeYourSeat

Protests were organised in 27 places across Australia

Thousands of Australian school students have urged greater action on climate change in protests across the country.

The students skipped school on Friday to highlight what they say are inadequate climate policies by the Australian government.

On Monday, Australian PM Scott Morrison rebuked their plans for “activism” during school hours and insisted his government was tackling climate change.

Many students said his remarks had bolstered their resolve to protest.

“We will be the ones suffering the consequences of the decisions they [politicians] make today,” protester Jagveer Singh, 17, told the BBC.

Organisers say they were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old girl in Sweden who has undertaken similar protests .

Students protest in central Sydney on Friday

Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030, under the Paris climate agreement.

Mr Morrison most recently cited a renewable energy target, a clean energy purchasing fund, and a hydropower project as evidence of Australia’s progress.

He told parliament on Monday: “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan, meanwhile, angered protesters by saying students would not learn anything from “walking off school and protesting”.

“The best thing you learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole [welfare] queue because that’s what your future life will look like,” he told a radio interviewer.

Many students held placards criticising the government, and PM Morrison specifically. “I hate ScoMo [Scott Morrison] more than I hate school,” one said.

Earlier this week, the UN said Australia and many nations were falling short of their emission commitments .

Australia had made “no improvement” in its climate policy since last year, according to the emissions gap report .

School Strike 4 Climate Action protests have been held in every state capital and 20 regional towns.

The BBC asked several students why they were taking part.

‘Education is our only power’

Milou Albrect (l) and Harriet O’Shea Carre organised the protest

The idea started with Milou Albrect and Harriet O’Shea Carre, both 14, in the state of Victoria.

“The climate change emergency is something we have been thinking about for a long time,” Harriet said.

“We wrote letters and did different things but they never seemed to make a difference. Really, education, is our only power. By sacrificing that [on Friday], it’s making a big point.”

Milou said: “We want our government to acknowledge publicly that climate change is a crisis. Stop digging coal, stop making new coal mines, switch to renewable energy.”

‘It’s really scary for us’

Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, organised a rally in Sydney

Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, saw the idea to protest grow in Victoria and decided to start one in her home city, Sydney.

“I can’t just sit around until I’m old enough to vote,” she said.

“Everyone, all young people, we can see that climate change is a real issue and we’re completely sick of politicians’ inaction. 

“It’s really scary for us, to see how it’s going to impact our future,” she said, citing fears about rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

‘It’s been an issue our whole life’

Ruby Walker says her generation has grown up thinking about climate change

Ruby Walker, 16, organised a protest in her town of Inverell, about 570km (350 miles) north of Sydney, after seeing others’ plans on Facebook.

She had also been inspired by the activism of high school students in the US during environment and gun control debates, she said.

“I think social media is a big part of it. You’re constantly seeing these issues happening around the world and seeing other students stick up for things you believe in,” she said.

“I feel like Australia is an embarrassment when it comes to climate change.”

Press link for more: BBC News

More photos of Australia’s Climate Strike

Children outside Warren Entsch’s Office in Cairns Queensland

WE NEED AN APOLLO PROGRAMME FOR #CLIMATECHANGE #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani #GreenNewDeal #TheDrum #QandA

By Bill McGuire

A recent visit to the cinema to see the excellent First Man, which follows astronaut Neil Armstrong on his path to immortality, reminded me of the big anniversary coming up next year.

I find it hard to believe, but 2019 will see the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, way back in July 1969. I was a schoolboy at the time and remember it vividly. In many ways, this seminal event was the beginning of the end for the hugely ambitious US space programme. Despite another five landings following, and all the drama of the Apollo 13 emergency, the final two moon missions were scrapped, along with plans for a moon base and manned mission to Mars in the 1980s. There has been no return to the Moon and – notwithstanding wildly optimistic ravings from Elon Musk and other internet billionaires with more money than sense – a human presence on the red planet seems as far away as ever.

      It is probably not entirely a coincidence that interest in space and reaching out to other worlds began to fade at a time when concerns over our own was growing. Today, few in their right mind would prioritise space exploration over putting our house in order down here on Earth.

A house that is in severe danger of being trashed beyond repair by a conspiracy of climate breakdown, environmental degradation and mass extinction. Notwithstanding this, space still has a major role to play down here on the surface. Specialist satellites play a key part in observing and tracking many of the features that flag up how quickly our world is falling apart, including ice cover, sea-surface temperatures and land use. The Apollo programme, in particular, also taught us a vital lesson; just how quickly something can be accomplished if it is wanted badly enough. This is encapsulated in a short clip from the now famous speech President Kennedy made in 1962, during which he announced the intention to put a man on the Moon. 

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

      Swap ‘stop climate breakdown’  for ‘go to the Moon’ and these few sentences describe perfectly the can-do thinking that a war on climate change requires.

It may be Kismet, but Kennedy’s speech was made seven years before the first moon landing; the same length of time over which Extinction Rebellion demands that UK carbon emissions reach net zero.

So, it seems obvious.

What we need is an Apollo Programme for climate change.

An all-embracing crusade that strives to cut emissions to the bone within seven years.

To do this will require retooling the economy and rebooting our wasteful lifestyles to make falling carbon output the measure of the success of our society; not rising GDP, the number of families with two cars, or how many fighter jets we have sold to Saudi Arabia.

      The driver for the Apollo programme was simple and straightforward – get to the Moon before the ‘Russkies’ do.

When the alternative is global catastrophe, an Apollo Programme for climate change shouldn’t really need to be incentivised.

Knowing that we will bequeath to our children and their children a world that is not desecrated beyond redemption should be sufficient.

Nonetheless, there are welcome incentives too.

A zero carbon world will be a cleaner, safer and – almost certainly – a happier one.

So what’s not to like.

The sooner we start the better.

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL and author of Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanic Eruptions. He was a contributor to the IPCC 2012 report on Climate Change & Extreme Events and Disasters.

Press link for more: XR Blog

A zero-carbon economy is both feasible and affordable #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency we must act now #TheDrum

The issue is whether governments, industry and consumers are willing to do what is required

By Adair Turner

Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell (born 5 October 1955) is a British businessman and academic and was Chairman of the Financial Services Authority until its abolition in March 2013.

He is a former Chairman of the Pensions Commission and the Committee on Climate Change, as well as a former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry. He has described himself in a BBC HARDtalk interview with Stephen Sackuras a ‘technocrat‘.

A solar farm. Achieving net zero emissions requires boosting the role of electricity

Fossil fuels have driven rising prosperity for more than 200 years and today provide 80 per cent of human energy needs. But carbon dioxide emissions from their use threaten potentially catastrophic climate change.

To avoid that we must achieve net zero emissions across the whole world by around 2060. 

That may seem daunting. But it would be undoubtedly technically possible at very small economic cost, as a report from the Energy Transitions Commission makes clear. The issue is not feasibility, but whether governments, industry and consumers are willing to take the actions required to get there. 

Achieving net zero emissions requires boosting the role of electricity.

The commission, which I chair, estimates its share of energy demand must grow from 20 per cent today to more than 60 per cent by mid-century.

Total generation would have to rise from 20,000 terawatt hours to up to 100,000 twh. 

Nuclear power could play some role but most of this power must and can come from renewable sources, including wind, solar and water.

Less than 1.5 per cent of the global land surface area could produce all the renewable electricity the world needs: and it is physically possible to run grids that rely on intermittent renewables for 85 to 90 per cent of their power, while still delivering electricity whenever needed.

The real challenge is to get to this endpoint fast enough: that requires us to quintuple our annual investment in renewables capacity for the next 40 years. 

Three other technologies are also essential.

First there must be a major role for hydrogen power: steel producers could potentially use it rather than coking coal as the reduction agent, and ammonia (produced from hydrogen) could be used as fuel for ships.

Hydrogen can result in zero-carbon emissions if produced via electrolysis using zero-carbon electricity. 

Second, we must tap bioenergy to provide zero-carbon aviation fuel and as a feedstock for plastics production. But this step must be carefully managed to avoid harmful impacts on ecosystems and food production.

Third a relatively small but still vital role for technologies that capture CO2, particularly in cement production. 

Some aspects of a zero-carbon economy will make consumers better off.

Within 10 years, electric cars will not only be cheaper to operate than diesel or petrol, but also cheaper to buy.

In heavy industry and transport, where it is harder to reduce CO2 emissions, some additional costs are unavoidable but often the consumer impact will be trivial: making cars from zero-carbon steel would add no more than 1 per cent to a typical car price. But in some specific sectors, material price increases may be unavoidable: if bio-based aviation fuel costs 50-100 per cent more to produce than conventional jet fuel, that would add up to 20 per cent to ticket prices.

Overall, the commission estimates that achieving zero emissions in heavy industry and transport by 2060 would make the global economy at most 0.5 per cent smaller than it would otherwise have been.

That figure could be reduced to less than 0.3 per cent if we increased the recycling and reuse of industrial materials.

That means that there are no unmanageable technological, resource or even cost barriers to impede our path to a zero-carbon economy. Still, without strong government intervention policies we will fail to achieve it. 

Charging for carbon emissions is essential but must be designed to avoid unfair competition. Making steel zero carbon may add only trivially to car prices, but any steel producer facing a carbon price that adds $100 to the costs of producing a tonne of steel, would be severely disadvantaged if competitors in other countries did not have to pay similar taxes. 

Ideally, we would strike international agreements, but we should not rule out imposing carbon-related tariffs on imports from non-co-operating countries. We should also consider unilateral domestic carbon prices in sectors such as cement, where international trade is limited. In some sectors, regulation may be more effective. Green fuel mandates requiring airlines to use a steadily rising percentage of zero-carbon bio or synthetic jet fuel would provide powerful incentives for innovation and large-scale production. Tight rules on the dismantling and disposal of discarded products will be essential to drive recycling.

Reaching agreement on many of these policies will of course be difficult. But it should at least be easier if we start with certainty that a zero-carbon economy is both technically feasible and affordable. 

The writer, a former head of the UK Financial Services Authority, chairs the Energy Transitions Commission

Press link for more: Financial Times

We urgently need a #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol #ClimateEmergency #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #TheDrum #QandA #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

Deteriorating climate requires more aggressive action

By Craig S. Altemose

THE LATEST CLIMATE SCIENCE has come in, and it’s time to update our state’s climate laws.

As a graduate student working on climate change in 2008, I was proud to help lead hundreds of students from across Massachusetts to campaign effusively for the passage of our state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act. It was, and remains, the nation’s most aggressive binding climate law, and everyone who helped pass it and all the legislators who voted for it should remain proud of that accomplishment, particularly the bill’s visionary co-sponsors, Sen. Marc Pacheco and recently-retired representative Frank Smizik.

And yet the source of that pride—the knowledge that we were aligning Massachusetts’ policies with the latest and best available science—should now leave all of us who care about a livable future feeling unsettled. Because the latest and best science has changed.

The 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act was based on the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which aimed at helping society avert a 4-degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature.

While that may not seem like a lot, our climate system is actually pretty sensitive, just like the human body.

It turns out increasing the planet’s temperature by 4 degrees may be as dangerous as increasing your body’s internal temperature a comparable amount; as we know, going from 98.6 degrees to 102.6 degrees is pretty serious.

To have a 50 percent chance of avoiding the catastrophe that would come with a 4-degree temperature rise, the IPCC said in 2007 that developed nations such as the United States should reduce their climate pollution 25 to 40 percent by 2020 and 80 to 95 percent by 2050 (below the 1990 baseline levels).

Massachusetts became the only state in the nation to adopt legislation requiring us to land within that range (25 percent by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050), putting our state in line with other nations such as the 27-member European Union and Japan.

Since 2008, three critical trends have been observed that have changed the calculus of what we need to do.

Two of these trends (worsening science outlook and delayed action) are unsettling, while the third (clean energy growth) is more promising.

The first trend is that the science has continued to be updated, and continues to look worse.

The IPCC’s latest report issued earlier this year has demonstrated that 3 degrees Fahrenheit, not 4 degrees Fahrenheit, is the more appropriate, safer target that society must achieve.

It’s the difference between keeping some coral reefs—currently home to over 25 percent of all marine life—or having them all disappear, along with most of the fish and people who rely on them for food.

It’s the difference between hundreds of millions of people being able to continue living with relative peace and prosperity in their ancestral homelands, and those hundreds of millions of people being displaced and migrating across international lines, creating massive migration crises, food riots, and the collapse of governments.

It’s the difference between a world we mostly recognize, and one we do not.

The second, related trend is the under-implementation of climate solutions around the world. With global climate pollution continuing to rise over the past decade instead of dropping, we must be even more ambitious in our pollution reduction to achieve the same result, because it’s the total amount of pollution (the stock), not how much we emit in a given year (the rate), that counts.

In other words, if you have a deadline to run a marathon, and you decide to walk the first 10 miles, you have to run the rest of the course a lot faster to hit your deadline than you would have if you had started running at the beginning.

That’s where we are—we have great distance to cover in relatively little time.

The latest IPCC report suggests that the whole world now needs to halve global emissions by 2030 and zero them out by 2050 in order to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

And given Massachusetts’ history of progressive leadership; above-average wealth; absence of coal, oil, and gas deposits; and robust clean tech sector, we should be doing substantially more, not less, than the global average.

Which leads me to the more promising trend: clean energy has advanced dramatically in the last decade.

The price of solar and wind – both onshore and offshore – has dropped tremendously, and is economically competitive with coal, oil, and gas in more and more places with each passing day, while breakthroughs around energy storage, smart grids, microgrids, and electric vehicles are proceeding aggressively.

Quite simply, we have the technology we need to advance a transition off of fossil fuels, and using 2018 technology to charge forward aggressively with that transition is a lot easier than charging forward with 2008 technology.

These three trends – more accurate climate science, delayed action, and a rapid growth in climate solutions – all point to the same conclusion: we can, should, and must redouble our efforts on climate change and support ambitious, science-based targets. If we truly want Massachusetts to assume its historic leadership role on this greatest crisis facing humanity, then we should have all of our policies driving toward 2030, not 2050, as the deadline for our work.

Doing so will require creative imagination, the courage to disrupt business-as-usual politics regarding our “public” utilities, and to grapple with tough choices. But there are some serious upsides to chartering an ambitious and bold response to climate change. We can also help infuse society with an inspiring and meaningful shared purpose. We can take advantage of the coming economic restructuring to simultaneously address systemic issues of racial and socioeconomic inequalities. We can move our economy away from one with disposable things and disposable people toward one that invests in healthy, whole, resilient communities. And we can save life on earth as we know it.

Many are now starting to frame such an aggressive, holistic response as a Green New Deal, with an emphasis on heavy government intervention on clean energy and jobs creation to advance critical social needs. Key components include a guaranteed good-paying job for anyone willing to work as part of the transition off of fossil fuels, and a particular focus on ensuring that fossil fuel workers, workin- class communities, and communities of color equitably share the benefits of this transition, all with an eye toward prompt and ambitious action on the timeline—years, not decades—that counts.

As tough as this path may seem, the choice is truly an easy one.

Will we take the necessary steps to repower and rework our economy, or will we continue on a path of gradual, inadequate actions and watch as California burns, oceans rise, storms strike, and crops fail? 

It’s time for Massachusetts to accelerate our efforts to build a better future that works for all of us and take the lead in a proportionate response to the climate crisis.

Craig S. Altemose is the executive director of Better Future Project and 350 Mass Action.

Press link for more: Commonwealth Magazine

Mass deaths & mayhem: National Climate Assessment’s shocking warnings #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange now #ClimateEmergency #COP24 #TheDrum #QandA #StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion

By Jason Silverstein CBS News

Jason Silverstein

Billions of hours in productivity will be lost.

Hundreds of billions of dollars will be wiped from the economy.

Tens of thousands of people will die each year.

These are just some of the most grim predictions in the latest National Climate Assessment, a nearly 1,700-page report released Friday warns about a world heading into complete chaos by the end of the 21st century.

The scientific report, which was produced by 13 federal agencies, describes an American future nothing short of apocalyptic due to rising threats from climate change. It suggests no facet of life — whether it’s global trade, national security or personal health — will be safe. And it says every nightmare scenario will feed into another: The disasters from climate change will start to compound each other, as will the consequences.

An updated report is released every four years, and this latest version notes human-made climate change isn’t the only factor expected to drive these dangers. Population growth, for example, will play a part in the tragedies predicted to happen by 2100.

But the new National Climate Assessment notes some specific warnings from the previous assessment in 2014 — such as rising sea levels, disruptions in food productions and the spread of wildfires — have all come true today. And it warns, without swift and immediate action, this is what Americans can expect in the coming decades:

Mass deaths every year

There are warnings throughout the report of health risks from climate change that, taken together, will total tens of thousands of additional premature deaths every year. Several cities, mostly in the Northeast and Southeast, are forecast to face new extremes in hot and cold days that could bring 3,900 to 9,300 deaths per year from 2080 to 2099.

The Midwest, the region projected to have the largest increase in deaths from extreme temperatures, could see 2,000 additional deaths per year by 2090, the report says.

Searching for human remains in recent Californian fires

Global food shortages

New temperature extremes, more frequent droughts and increased CO2 emissions have already been connected to shortages in crops like wheat, which then lead to higher prices for consumers.

As these changes continue, it will be harder to produce wheat, corn, soybean, rice and other crops at the rates needed for a rising population.

The report notes higher temperatures and more precipitation could also lead to an increase in wheat, hay and barley in some regions. But overall, the yields from major U.S. commodity crops are expected to decline nationwide.

Record breaking temperature in Cairns today 4C hotter than previous record 37.2 set in 1971.

Economic devastation

The Trump administration says it is scaling back environmental regulations that are stunting economic growth. But the report says the eventual fallout from climate change will damage nearly every facet of the economy. Prices will soar and international trade will be disrupted. Up to two billion labor hours could be lost every year by 2090 due to temperature extremes alone, leading to an estimated $160 billion in lost wages, the report says.

The final result: An estimated loss of up to 10 percent gross domestic product by 2100. By comparison, that would be more than twice the 4.3 percent GDP loss of the Great Recession.

Crumbling infrastructure – and millions of hours waiting in cars

The destruction climate change can bring to buildings, bridges, dams and transit systems racks up costs billions of dollars and usually takes years to repair.

But the report says in parts of the U.S., including much of the Northeast and Southeast, the infrastructure for managing storms is already nearing the end of its life expectancy. Even new facilities are often not built to withstand climate changes that are decades away. That means that as floods, wildfires and hurricanes become more frequent, they will also become more devastating, causing greater property damage and more deaths when they strike, according to the report. These extreme weather events also make water and agriculture systems more vulnerable to toxins and bacteria.

And these problems won’t be easy to escape. One chart in the study predicts by 2100, drivers in parts of the country could spend more than 625 million hours a year in their vehicle, delayed on roads flooded by high tides.

More mental health problems – and murders

Much of the report focuses of havoc climate change will wreak on systems and institutions. But it also makes clear all of this takes a toll on mental health. People who survive extreme weather events and see their communities destroyed often suffer from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder. And those problems linger long after the destruction passes.

The report notes droughts have led to a documented increase in alcohol and tobacco use, while higher temperatures bring out more aggressive behaviors, including an increase in homicides.

Press link for more: CBS.NEWS

40C in Cairns today that’s 3C above November Record. 2018 the last straw for the Great Barrier Reef #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

The Great Barrier Reef Is “In for a Rough Ride”

Eminent coral researcher Terry Hughes says the key to protecting the iconic corals off Australia’s coast is to stop global warming

Record break heatwave in Cairns Today
Today the temperature in Cairns is 3C hotter than the previous November record set in 1971.
The death knell for the Great Barrier Reef?

During summer 2017 a large swath of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—normally a riot of electric oranges, reds and other colors—turned ghostly pale.

Unusually warm water temperatures, partly due to global warming, had caused the corals to expel from their tissues the symbiotic algae that provide them with food and give them their brilliant hues.

It was the second mass-bleaching event to hit the reef in as many years. Together, the back-to-back events hit two thirds of the reef.

Now, with the 2019 Australian summer poised to begin, atmospheric scientists are predicting an El Niño—a recurring period marked by warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

This potential for high temperatures again poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, one that marine biologist Terry Hughes—a high-profile champion of coral reef protection—will be watching, looking for signs of more damage to the reef as he continues to push for protecting it.

Hughes thinks there are some worthy mitigation efforts to explore, such as reforesting the watersheds that drain into the reef to prevent pollution-bearing runoff. But ultimately he believes the key to saving corals lies in addressing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Professor Terry Hughes. Credit: Arccoe Wikimedia

Hughes’s efforts to raise awareness about the fate of the 2,300-kilometer-long coral reef—the largest on the planet and home to thousands of marine species—have put him at odds with business and political interests. Last month it emerged the Australian Research Council (ARC) would drop its funding of the coral reef institute Hughes directs at James Cook University in Queensland—a move decried by ocean scientists around the world. (The ARC and the current conservative Australian government have said the decision was not politically motivated, according to news reports.) Last week Hughes was awarded The John Maddox Prize for championing scientific evidence in the face of hostility. Scientific American caught up with him at the annual Falling Walls science conference in Berlin earlier this month and spoke about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

What is your outlook for the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months?

NOAA [the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are both projecting a high likelihood of an El Niño event forming later this year. If that happens, the likelihood of bleaching when summer sea temperatures peak next March would be very high, but we won’t know for sure until about January. A well-timed cyclone could cool the water despite the long-term forecast. But you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2016 the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef was rescued by a spent cyclone that brought the [water] temperature down about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. But with Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the bleaching had already occurred and the storm was a category 4 when it hit the coast—so it was actually very damaging and destructive [to the reef].

How do you monitor a bleaching event?

Our aerial surveys, which we match to satellite temperature data, are reef-wide. It takes us seven or eight days to crisscross the entire Great Barrier Reef in a small plane flying up to eight hours a day. It’s pretty grueling but that’s the best way that we have of getting the full picture. We ground-truth all of that [data] underwater [during dives]. Each event that we study has a different geography. The 2016 event was very much a northern affair. The maps for the 2017 bleaching will show that the hottest part of the reef—the part that had the most bleaching—was in the center.

Dead coral. Credit: J.W. Alker Getty Images

Is there any area of the reef you are especially worried about?

My worst nightmare is that the bottom [southern] third of the Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the last two events, will bleach. It was simply good luck that prevented it from bleaching in 2016 and 2017. Those reefs have very high numbers of branching corals that happen to be the most susceptible to bleaching. So if it does get a blast of heat next summer or some summer soon, there will be high levels of mortality. That would mean all sectors of the reef will have been hit within a handful of years.

How did the Australian government respond to the bleaching events?

The Great Barrier Reef story in Australia, following the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching, is very politically contentious. You would think an appropriate response by the government would be to declare, for instance, that it wasn’t going to proceed with the world’s largest coal mine [with a coal shipping terminal near the reef] or that it would ramp up its renewable energy targets. Neither has occurred. The government has put quite a lot of money into investigating different interventions. Some are downright silly—the [underwater cooling] fans, the floating sunscreen. There’s a campaign to ban plastic straws. If you were cynical, you would say that it was more about giving the appearance of helping reefs when the elephant in the room is still climate change. There’s also money for improving water quality. Runoff of sediment and nutrients from agriculture into the inner part of the Great Barrier Reef is an important issue, but the amount of funding that’s being spent on that is nowhere near sufficient to reach the government’s own targets. As the country responsible for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia should be leading the international efforts to reduce emissions, especially following the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. Our current commonwealth government has officially signed on to the 1.5-degree C target [for limiting global temperature rise] of the Paris agreement, but Australia’s emissions are actually increasing.

How will the loss of funding from the Australian Research Council affect your work?

It’s roughly a quarter of our funding and it won’t take effect for another two to three years, so we’ve got time to continue with our current level of activity and to change our funding model by moderate amounts to make up that loss. It’s not good news, certainly. But we will continue to do the research that we’re doing, especially if we see bleaching next year.

What do people misunderstand about the Great Barrier Reef?

There are still about 10 billion corals out there alive and kicking. We’ve just gone through one hell of a natural selection event where the so-called losers—the heat-susceptible species—have been badly depleted. The mix of species has changed. The genetic composition of the coral populations is changing. I think that is just the beginning of a transition that hopefully will make the Great Barrier Reef tougher for inevitable future events. Things will generally get worse before they get better. Until CO2 emissions and temperatures stabilize, the corals are going to be in for a rough ride. Because corals have big populations that are geographically widely dispersed, there is light at the end of the tunnel—but it is completely contingent on whether we can keep temperatures to the 1.5-degree C target.

Press link for more: Scientific American